A Courtesan, an Angry Man and a Pistol-Wielding Sharmila Tagore

Singularly stunning star crossed lovers.

The Angry Man seeking revenge.

The courtesan who dances her way into the Sahib’s heart.

Wrought with emotion, saturated in color, larger than life: it’s the classic Bollywood poster.

Back in the day – before internet, before TV, before your phone had become an appendage – the only publicity a Hindi film received was the hand painted, image rich poster of said courtesan/angry man/lover. Plastered throughout cities in India, on walls, shop doors, and lamp posts, these posters were a part of everyday life.

Ask your your parents about those days and nostalgia creeps into their eyes. For a moment they’re lost in the memory of a simpler time when raw emotion was allowed to breathe freely without being stepped on by the next incoming message.

And it doesn’t matter if  you’ve seen the films or not, these images have seeped into pop culture. You can find them on belts, wallets, pants, and drink coasters. The demand for a piece of old school Bollywood is global. The poster is finding a home in Tokyo, Paris, London, and Berlin as foreigners living in India build businesses collecting, restoring and selling them as works of art.

Visitors traveling to Mumbai hunt for their own posters. Their quest takes them to Chor Bazaar where they optimistically seek out the most honest looking poster vendor they can find and begin the bargaining ritual (which they surely lose).

Not inclined to trek to Chor Bazaar soon?  You can get a piece of Bollywood history the easy way.

Find your own frameable Bollywood posters at www.ebay.com.

Get the book “Bollywood Posters” by Sheena Sippy and Jerry Pinto. We love its abundant selection of well-curated images, not to mention the pistol-wielding Sharmila Tagore on the cover. Solid.

And if you want a little reminder of what the fuss is all about, watch this.

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